How to Clean Nubuck Leather? (Easy Tips)

Nubuck leather combines the beauty of suede and the durability of traditional leather. It’s a type of leather with a soft, velvety surface and is often used for shoes, furniture, and jackets. Keeping nubuck in top condition requires a specific cleaning method to maintain its unique texture without causing damage.

To clean Nubuck Leather:

  1. Use a nubuck cloth or sponge to gently rub the surface to remove dirt and restore the nap.
  2. Apply a nubuck cleaner specifically designed for nubuck leather, following the product instructions.
  3. For tougher stains, use a nubuck cleaning block (or eraser) to gently rub the affected area.
  4. After cleaning, use a nubuck brush to lift the nap and maintain the texture.
  5. Protect the leather with a nubuck protector spray to repel water and stains.

I find it important to approach cleaning gently to avoid scratching the surface. Leather cleaners designed for nubuck can help treat more resistant stains without harsh chemicals that may harm the nubuck over time. Proper care will extend the life of nubuck items, ensuring they remain a cherished part of my wardrobe or home décor for years to come.

Essential Cleaning Tools and Products

To maintain nubuck leather’s appearance and longevity, having the right tools and cleaning products is crucial. I’ll help you understand how to carefully select what you need for effective cleaning without damaging the delicate nubuck surface.

Choosing the Right Brush

For nubuck leather, a specific type of brush is necessary. I recommend using a nubuck brush, which often has soft bristles designed not to damage the leather’s nap. When looking for a brush, consider the following:

  • Materials: Brushes made with rubber or soft nylon bristles are ideal.
  • Design: Some brushes come with crepe sides for gentle cleaning and a rubber side for more rigorous scrubbing.

Selecting a Nubuck Cleaner

Selecting an appropriate nubuck cleaner is vital as it can prevent potential discoloration and damage. Here’s what I suggest you look for:

  • Type: Dedicated nubuck cleaners are preferable. They are specially formulated to clean without leaving residue.
  • Application: Check if the cleaner requires dilution or can be used directly. Always test on a small, inconspicuous area before full application.

DIY Cleaning Solutions

Sometimes you might not have a commercial nubuck cleaner at hand, or you prefer a homemade alternative. Here are a couple of household items you can use:

  1. White Vinegar: Ideal for removing light stains. Dab it gently on the stain with a cloth, then let it dry.
  2. Cornmeal and Dish Soap: A mixture of cornmeal and a few drops of dish soap can be used to lift grease stains. Sprinkle the cornmeal, let it sit, then brush it off.

In summary, careful selection of brushes and cleaners ensures effective cleaning. Also, know that DIY solutions can be handy in a pinch.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

To maintain nubuck leather’s luxurious feel and appearance, regular cleaning and protection measures are crucial. My guide here will provide you with the necessary steps to keep your nubuck items in pristine condition.

Basic Dust and Dirt Removal

Start by using a soft-bristled brush to gently remove surface dust and grime from your nubuck leather items. This routine should be done lightly to avoid damaging the leather’s nap. When I’m done with brushing, I follow up with a soft, clean cloth to pick up any remaining dust particles.

Conditioning and Protecting Nubuck

After the basic cleaning, conditioning nubuck leather keeps it soft and supple. I apply a small amount of leather conditioner with a soft cloth using circular motions. Once applied, I always let the conditioner soak in and never forget to apply a protector spray. This spray adds a layer of protection against staining and water damage.

Key Products I Use:

  • Leather Conditioner: Nourishes the nubuck leather.
  • Protector Spray: Offers waterproofing and protection from stains.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

One important aspect of maintenance is understanding what not to do. I never use direct heat like a blow dryer to dry nubuck because it can cause cracking and fading. Instead, I opt for natural air drying. Additionally, I avoid using water or abrasive cleaners for spot cleaning, as they can create more stains. If moisture is necessary for cleaning, I use it sparingly and blot gently with a lint-free cloth.

Treating Common Stains and Spills

When I’m faced with spills or stains on nubuck leather, I know treating them promptly is crucial. Using the right techniques can preserve my leather’s texture and appearance.

Removing Water Stains

For water stains, it’s important to act quickly. I blot the excess moisture with a clean, dry cloth, fully absorbing as much water as possible. Then, I let the leather air dry naturally — using a hairdryer or direct heat can damage the nubuck. If any stains remain once it’s dry, I use a specialized nubuck brush to gently buff the surface, which often eliminates any water marks.

Tackling Tough Stains

When tougher stains like dye or mildew appear, my go-to solution is a slightly dampened cloth with soapy water. I very gently rub the affected area, avoiding soaking the nubuck, as too much water can worsen the stains instead of removing them. If the stain persists, a nubuck eraser, which is much like a pencil eraser but designed for leather, can be effective in lifting the stain.

Ink and Grease Solutions

Ink and grease are some of the most stubborn stains. I’ve discovered that using an ink lifter designed specifically for leather can remove fresh ink spills. If the stain is older, I sometimes find success with a degreaser, but I always ensure it’s suitable for use on nubuck leather. After using cleaners or degreasers, I always allow my leather to dry naturally and then use a nubuck brush to restore the nap.

Specific Care for Nubuck Items

When it comes to nubuck, I know that routine maintenance and proper care are paramount for extending the life of your items.

Caring for Nubuck Shoes and Boots

My nubuck shoes and boots always get special attention. I make it a point to regularly use a suede brush to lift away dirt and maintain the nap. For deeper cleaning, I often employ a cleaner specifically designed for nubuck. I’ve found that applying a nubuck-specific protective spray helps a lot in repelling water and stains.

  • Daily Care:
    • Brush with a suede brush gently to remove dust.
    • Protect with a spray designed for nubuck.
  • Deep Cleaning:
    • Use a nubuck cleaner; follow the instructions on the label.
    • Air dry away from direct heat.

Preserving Nubuck Jackets and Furniture

Nubuck jackets and furniture like leather sofas require careful handling. I usually start by brushing them with a soft-bristle brush to remove surface dirt. For my jacket, I use a nubuck eraser to deal with small spots. On the other hand, my leather sofa benefits from vacuuming with a soft brush attachment to prevent scratches.

  • For Jackets:
    • Brush gently with a suede brush.
    • Spot clean with a nubuck eraser.
  • For Furniture:
    • Regularly vacuum with a soft attachment.
    • Treat spills immediately by blotting, not rubbing.

Storing Nubuck Leather Properly

I’ve learned the importance of keeping my nubuck items in a cool, dry place. I always stuff my boots with a shoe tree to maintain their shape and absorb any moisture. For bags, I fill them with stuffing and store them in a breathable dust bag to avoid dust accumulation and moisture damage.

  • For Shoes:
    • Insert a shoe tree to retain shape.
    • Avoid plastic bags; opt for a breathable dust bag.
  • For Other Items:
    • Store in a well-ventilated area.
    • Use stuffing to preserve shape and keep dry.

Properly caring for nubuck leather ensures not only its beauty and softness but also extends the lifespan of your favorite items.

Andre from

Andre is a passionate leatherworker. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.